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Laws that Recognize the Importance of Humane Education

Students frequently encounter animals in their daily life and as part of their education, yet humane education receives too little attention. Humane education is a set of tools and strategies for teaching about human responsibilities, animal protection, environmental stewardship and cultural issues as an interconnected part of a healthy society. Humane education encourages students to live with compassion, integrity and wisdom. Schools that incorporate humane education into their mission and curriculum prepare students to solve problems rather than perpetuate them. Humane education prepares students to use the foundational tools of literacy, numeracy, and critical and creative thinking in their interactions with animals.

Currently only seventeen states have laws requiring schools to adopt policies regarding humane education and of these, only nine require education on the humane treatment of animals. The trend is to include humane education information in studies regarding environmental issues, such as air pollution and water pollution and the effects of excessive use of pesticides. The deficiencies in current education policy mean that little importance is given to teaching children about humane care for companion and domestic animals, and the value of protecting wildlife.

Studies in behavioral psychology have shown that cruelty to animals has consequences that affect future interaction with people as well. For example, many violent offenders, including many serial killers, started out harming animals, especially as children. They have then moved on to violence to humans, which may have been prevented with early intervention. Teaching empathy and compassion for animals at an early age not only helps animals, but also lessens the likelihood that children will be cruel to other children. Humane education provides an important opportunity to inform and inspire students on the importance of the natural world and the responsibilities people have to animals, as well as to other human beings.

States with humane education as part of their curriculum:




New Jersey

New York

North Dakota



States that focus humane education on environmental concerns, like pollution and waste, and do not specifically mention animals:










Alabama and Louisiana had humane education laws, but these policies have been repealed.

The remaining states have no state policy at this time.